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DJ Spinall’s ‘Grace’ feels like a playlist [Pulse Album Review]

Omah Lay, Wizkid, Tiwa Savage, Fireboy, Kranium, Shaybo and more feature.

DJ Spinall - Grace. [TopBoy/Platoon]

From the throes of Raypower FM, he has been able to brand himself and transcend average conversations.

On his new album Grace, he also produced a significant amount of songs. While a lot of albums sound shabby, planned or forced, other albums are just like playlists. An album like that is Olamide’s critically-acclaimed Carpe Diem. But you see, even that album had a nexus - Olamide’s honest. Spinall’s ‘Grace’ is the quintessential playlist.

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It has no special nexus or concept to tie it all together, neither does it sound shabby. Instead, it is crafted around resonant topics and built like the playlist to a lowkey rooftop party in Lekki, Lagos.

The bottom line is that ‘Grace’ is Afro-pop - sometimes it’s Wizkid-esque with the mid-tempo essence, other times it’s Street-hop, sometimes it’s new-age Afro&B and a few times it goes out of Nigeria for sonic influences. Commendably, Spinall picks the features for every song to perfection. His features balance the service and streaming strategy perspectives to a ‘T.’

When the album went in the love direction, Minz and Bella Shmurda deliver furtive love-filled approaches from the admiration and first encounter perspective on ‘Energy.’ Confam’ featuring King Promise is the quintessential Ghana-influenced Afro-pop record. If Minz and Bella Shmurda were furtive with admiration, King Promise is vocal with his intentions.

He promises the girl the finer things of life after being taken aback by her good looks and charms. Niniola and Wurld then take it up a notch on the Amapiano record, ‘Pure Water.’ It feels like that initial ‘sex talk’ flirtation during those corny-cut WhatsApp chat moments while dating.

It’s actually interesting how Wurld conveniently uses ‘Pure Water’ as a metaphor for a woman. Hmmm...

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Fireboy then came with the wash as he invited a girl out to ‘Sere’ aboard a Kel P-produced Funk-Pop/Disco-pop/Boogie-esque, bass guitar chords-aided piece of eccentric Afro-pop. Fireboy also drops the corny, yet resonant lines, “I nor fit fight kung-fu, but I can fight for you… I nor fit die for you, but I fit live for you...:”

One time, love saw Crayon liken a girl to ‘Tatashe’ - which is Yoruba for a species of pepper. The metaphor is meant to underline and amplify the heat the girl emits. Crayon also sings that, “My baby is a fire dispenser…”

‘Tatashe’ is the best song on this album.

Love also forms the basis of ‘Dis Love,’ the 2019 sleeper hit which features Wizkid and Tiwa Savage. Other times, love also evolves into sex, Omah Lay’s area of specialization aboard ‘Tonight.’ The problem with the record though is the lack of cohesion between the hook and verses on the record.

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‘Jabole’ also saw Oxlade ask a woman if he could give her on “standing.” I wasn’t here, plis… ah!

The most explicit sex talk came from elite vet, Reminisce. On ‘EDI,’ he employs a call and response style to adulate a model-esque girl on a street-hop record. He also embodies a confident, rich Yoruba man who swaggers into a potential relationship. Oja D wildly raps, “Oloko nla no dey talk o...:”

In English that means, “Whoever has a big penis doesn’t brag…”

Let’s just chalk that to the brilliance of absolute wildness. Despite the explicit sex talk, the overall spirit of the track makes it feel like the early stages of a love story though, not the thick of it.

The brilliance of the record is in how it borrows from different sounds to cement its rounded Afro-pop experience. While Reminisce raps in Yoruba, his verse is deeply rooted in Ghanaian Afro-pop flows.

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The beat feels South African - Gqom meets subtle Amapiano hits - in melodies, use of horns and its peripheral instruments, but the drums are straight from Nigerian Street-hop lamba. ‘

‘Everytime’ is the best single that Spinall released. Its Bashment essence comes through as a canvass for sensuality. Kranium sings, “Everytime you call me, me know you want it. Me know say you wan give me the p*nani…”

At first glance, it feels like another track laced with random sex talk, but in fact it underlines the comfort of a woman who asks for a sex in a society that villifies women for asking for sex.

It’s not all love and sex though, sometimes it’s about the struggles of life on the road to success. At the end of ‘Pressure’ featuring Dice Ailes, Spinall says, “Pressure is real, iyanu a sele…”

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In English, “Iyanu a sele” means “There will be a miracle…”

The record sees Ailes discuss the ‘Pressure’ as he sings, “The kind pressure man dey face scatter man eye o, the kind tension man dey see… It’s very mighty o...”

‘Grace’ also discusses the power of money on ‘Dollar’ featuring R2Bess and ‘Money’ featuring BOJ and fast-rising British-Nigerian rapper, Shaybo. Once again, Shaybo shines with her personable lines, Nigerian-Yoruba tongue mix and her ‘highly Hip-Hop’ technique.

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On the basis of this album, ‘Grace’ doesn’t seem like an appropriate title for a topically decentralized album. However, ‘Grace’ could also simply be where Spinall is as a person, per his journey and not necessarily as regards his music. When you look at his journey, he has a lot of reasons to feel gratitude.

On the whole, the album has some bright moments and resonant topics, but its sequence means the album lacks topical progression and that it blows hot and cold. At times, a listener goes through three to four songs with recognition of appeal, but without genuine appreciation that comes with great records.

A lot of that has to do with the production which is not bad or average in musicality, but is not good enough to convey excitement either. For these reasons this writer feels like this tracklist/album sequence would have better served the album;

Words of Grace

Energy

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Confam

Pure Water

Sere

Tatashe

Dis Love

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Tonight

Jabole

EDI

Everytime

Pressure

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Dollar

Money

Everytime [Remix]

This way, the album could have come in two parts; one part about a relationship that blossoms into great sex and the other about pressure, the value of money and success. A lot of those topics were also excessively focused on female adulation, love and sweet-nothings. It needed more topical diversity.

Ratings: /10

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• 0-1.9: Flop

• 2.0-3.9: Near fall

• 4.0-5.9: Average

• 6.0-7.9: Victory

• 8.0-10: Champion

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Pulse Rating: /10

Album Sequencing: 0.6/2

Songwriting and Themes: 1.3/2

Production: 1.2/2

Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1.2/2

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Execution: 1.3/2

Total:

5.6 - Average

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